E-newsletters, webinars, SlideShare infographics and other email marketing content can go as flat as an open bottle of champagne after a while. Business in the 21st century is sort of like show business, folks. Gypsy Rose Lee said it best, “You’ve gotta have a gimmick.” You need to know how to hold your audience and you’d better know how to recognize when they stop paying attention.
The content you provide must be considered relevant and obvious sales pitches will eventually cause a drop-off in the email open rate. Attention spans are short and email in-boxes are filled to the brim. You can’t afford to lose control of your “room”, i.e., your list members. Presumably, your list is populated with clients, prospects and referral sources, the life-blood of your business. How do you build and maintain a robust list? Try these tactics:
1. Examine your stats and identify the non-readers. Studies show that on average, 60% of marketing emails are never opened.
2. Prune the list. Facing up to audience members who’ve fallen out of love with you takes courage but like any love affair that’s over, it’s best to move on. Carol Tice, who founded the Freelance Writer’s Den and maintains a formidable list, periodically emails non-readers and asks if they’d like to remain on the list. Non-responders are removed. A purge improves the open rate statistic and ensures that the creative energy and hard work invested in your content marketing will be appreciated.
3. Ask list members to update their email information. Your open rate could improve just by allowing readers to have emails sent to an alternate address.
4. If your open rate continues to drop, evaluate your subject line. A well-written subject line is a siren song to potential readers.
5. Include a tempting call to action and maybe name it in the subject line. A survey, free webinar (hosted by you or someone whose expertise you trust), or a white paper on a subject of interest to your readers re-establishes your relevance and will persuade a percentage of non and infrequent readers to click and engage.
6. Think mobile. In July 2014, Forrester Research reported that 42 % of emails from B2C retailers are opened on smartphones and 17 % are opened on tablets. Customize your email communications for responsive design, so that reading will be easy on mobile devices.
7. Keep a regular schedule. You may prefer to publish on a given date or day of the week but whatever you do, adhere to a predictable schedule. Readers appreciate it more than you may realize. Make readers anticipate receiving and reading your communications.
8. Build your list. Organically and with permission, build your email marketing list. You should have met each person on your list at least once. At the email campaign launch, send to all business contacts along with an introductory message that announces the debut, explains the benefits to readers, reveals the frequency (weekly or monthly) and provides an easy and effective opt-out. Resist the temptation to add to your list the names of everyone who hands you a business card. When speaking with people, do mention your email marketing campaign, give examples of the subjects covered and how often you send. Ask if they would like to receive at least one and let them know that if they choose to opt out, that can be easily and quickly done.
9. Personalize. Whatever service sends out your emails should include a greeting to each individual recipient.
10. Sign me up! On your website and social media, allow interested parties to sign up to receive selected email marketing communications, register for webinars, or receive a copy of any white papers.
Content marketing is the new advertising and emailing your content remains an effective way to reach clients and prospects, including those who no longer answer the phone. Create a robust list by continually adding and purging members and enable your campaigns to deliver optimal ROI (as you define it). Draw in readers with relevant content and intriguing subject lines. Format in responsive design to include those who prefer to read on mobile devices. Fulfill expectations by publishing on a regular schedule.
Thanks for reading,
Kim L. Clark is an external consultant who provides strategy and marketing solutions to for-profit and not-for-profit organizations. Kim is the founder and principal of Polished Professionals Boston and she teaches business plan writing to aspiring entrepreneurs. Visit polishedprofessionalsboston.com for more information.